Pamir languages

Pamir languages

Infobox Language family
name=Pamir languages
region= Pamir
The Pamir languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages, spoken by Pamiri people in the Pamir Mountains, primarily along the Panj River and its tributaries. This includes the southern Gorno-Badakhshan province of Tajikistan and the neighboring Badakhshan region that extends into northeastern Afghanistan. Smaller communities can be found in the adjacent areas of Pakistan where many have settled in recent decades. Sarikoli, one of the languages of the Pamir group, is spoken beyond the Sarikol ridge on the Afghanistan-China border, and thus qualifies as the eastern-most of the extant Iranian languages.

Members of the Pamir language group include Shughni, Sarikoli, Yazgulyam, Munji, Sanglechi-Ishkashmi, Wakhi, and Yidgha. These are Southeastern Iranian languages and have the Subject Object Verb syntactic typology. The vast majority of Pamir language speakers also speak Tajik, which is—unlike the languages of the Pamir group—a Southwestern Iranian tongue. The language group is endangered, with total number of speakers roughly around 100,000 (as of 1990).

The Bulgar language spoken by the ancestors of modern-day Bulgarians is believed by some to have been a Pamir language (although it is more commonly regarded as Turkic). After the Bulgars migrated to the Balkans in 7th century, Bulgars merged with the local Slavs and adopted their South Slavic language, from which modern Bulgarian developed.


The Shughni, Sarikoli, and Yazgulyam languages belong to the Shugni-Yazgulami sub-branch. There are about 75,000 speakers of languages in this family in Afghanistan and Tajikstan (including the dialects of Rushani, Oroshani, Bartangi, Oroshor, Khufi, and Shughni). As of 1982, there were about 20,000 speakers of Sarikoli in the Sarikol Valley located in the Tashkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in Xinjiang Province, China. Shughni and Sarikoli are not mutually intelligible. In 1994, there were 4000 speakers of Yazgulyam along the Yazgulyam River in Tajikistan. Yazgulyam is not written.


The Munji language is closely related to Yidgha, and in 1992 there were around 2500 speakers in the Munjan and Mamalgha Valleys of northeastern Afghanistan.


There are about 2500 speakers of Sanglechi-Ishkashmi in Afghanistan and Tajikistan (dialects: Sanglechi, Ishkashmi, Zebaki). Sanglechi-Ishkashimi is not a written language.


There are around 29,000 speakers of the Wakhi language in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan.


There are about 6000 speakers of Yidgha in Pakistan. Yidgha is closely related to the Munji language of Afghanistan.


The Vanji language was spoken in the Vanj river valley the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in Tajikistan. In the 19th century the region was forcibly annexed to the Bukharan Emirate and a violent assimilation campaign was undertaken. By the end of the 19th century the Vanji language had disappeared.

ee also

*Pamir Mountains


*Payne, John, "Pamir languages" in "Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum", ed. Schmitt (1989), 417–444.

External links

* [ map of Tajikistan]
* [ Ishkashimi story with English translation]
* [ Ishkashimi-English Vocabulary List, also featuring words from other Pamir languages added for comparison]
* [ English-Ishkashimi- Zebaki-Wakhi-Yazghulami Vocabulary]
* [ A Short List of Yazghulami Words]

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